Don’t Just Watch Your Money Go Down the Drain!

by: Leslie Jones


It wouldn’t be as beneficial to talk about recycling if we didn’t add in information and discussion on topics that round out the concept of recycling. Conservation and preservation of our natural resources remains of equal importance. For our purposes today, and along the lines of conservation, I’d like to discuss water conservation.

Even though we are a recycling company, we don’t only recycle.  Our main goal is to conserve and preserve all of our natural resources while continuing to reduce the amount of waste in the landfill, reuse the items and materials that we can, and recycle the ones we can’t.  Sound familiar?  It may be a little cliche, but certainly right on the money.  It may actually save you money, too! 

One of the ways we can conserve water is to make use of rain barrels.  “A rain barrel collects and stores rainwater from rooftops to use later for watering plants and gardens. Water collected in a rain barrel would normally pour off your roof directly or flow through roof gutter downspouts and become stormwater runoff. Depending on your yard, this runoff can travel onto paved surfaces and eventually into a storm drain.”*

But why would we use a rain barrel?  “Residential water use increases 40 to 50% during summer months - mostly due to outdoor water use. 

Rain barrels conserve water and help lower costs (a rain barrel can save approximately 1,300 gallons of water during peak summer months)

Rain barrels reduce water pollution by reducing stormwater runoff, which can contain pollutants like sediment, oil, grease, bacteria and nutrients.

Rain barrels are inexpensive and easy to build and install.

Rain barrels can also be arranged to slowly release the collected rainfall to areas that can soak up the water, reducing stormwater runoff and increasing groundwater recharge.”*

Aside from conserving water, rain barrels alleviate another problem plaguing the world....water pollution.  “Stormwater runoff is the leading type of residential non-point source pollution.”  “Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and groundwaters.

Nonpoint source pollution can include:

  • Excess fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas
  • Oil, grease and toxic chemicals from urban runoff and energy production
  • Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding streambanks
  • Salt from irrigation practices and acid drainage from abandoned mines
  • Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes and faulty septic systems
  • Atmospheric deposition and hydromodification

States report that nonpoint source pollution is the leading remaining cause of water quality problems. The effects of nonpoint source pollutants on specific waters vary and may not always be fully assessed. However, we know that these pollutants have harmful effects on drinking water supplies, recreation, fisheries and wildlife.”**

Using water collected from rain barrels to water vegetable gardens, flowers, and lawns not only cuts down on pollution and saves money, it more evenly distributes rainwater thus allowing storm drains to work more efficiently and not back up causing even further problems and pollution.

Rain barrels can be purchased at your local home improvement stores and range from about $85.00 to $ 150.00.  If you’re an avid do-it-yourselfer, you can build a rain barrel for possibly half the cost.

Don’t just watch your money go down the drain!  Whether you purchase or build one of these extraordinary must-haves, you will be conserving one of our most important natural resources and might lower your water bill in the process!  

*http://www.uri.edu/ce/healthylandscapes/rainbsources.html
**http://water.epa.gov/polwaste/nps/whatis.cfm